Restructuring and renovating any building comes with a whole host of challenges; be they residential, commercial or otherwise. Some properties are more troublesome than others, such as very old buildings which may have structural degradation or other age-related issues. Other types of buildings which pose significant renovation challenges are those which are listed. These are all factors which should be considered before undertaking any work and prior to applying for refurbishment finance.
For example, a Grade-1 Listed Building will not allow for a lot of work as almost all of the exterior as well as the interior will need to be maintained and the character untouched. Other challenges can include things such as the scale of the job for much larger buildings and finding the right tradespeople or construction outfit to undertake the works on such a large scale to the standards and timeframes required.
Building Permissions and Applications (H2)
When a restructure or renovation of a building is required, you will have to obtain planning permission from the Local Planning Authority (LPA) via your local council’s online portal. The planning process can sometimes be tedious and appear very lengthy, but it is something which must be done. It is also something which will need to be considered and potentially even submitted in the case of auction properties; where permissions will need to be considered before applying for an auction loan or similar.
The planning application process can be separated into various, distinct key stages:
Validation – Upon being submitted (usually online) with all the necessary supporting documentation, all applications must be checked in order to make sure that the documents and fees required have been successfully submitted. If there is any missing information, it will be highlighted and requested at this early point.
Consultation and Publicity – Consultants will likely be sent to various bodies and assessors to obtain their expert view on the proposed project and scope of works. In addition, advertisements may be placed in local papers to obtain local views.
Consideration – The site where the planning has been filed for will be inspected, which will include taking down site-specific details and taking photographs.
Negotiation – There may be problems identified within the application, i.e. something which is requested is denied due to a permission law. The planning officer will contact the applicant to discuss suitable amendments or suggest alternative arrangements.
Decision – A decision is made about the application by an appropriate body for the council. One of the challenges of this is that getting to this point in the process can take longer if complications are found. Under legislation, the application must be determined in accordance with the Development Plan, thus, it is useful for applicants to be aware of the content of the Development Plan prior to submitting an application.
Older and Listed Buildings (H2)
There are plenty of challenges which come to the fore when carrying out renovations on buildings which are old. Older buildings have character and often boast features which are true to the time in which they were built and for many (including Planning Authorities), these features are very desirable and planning offices are very reluctant to allow changes to them.
As well as planning permission-related issues, there are things that you need to consider when renovating an older building that you do not have to concern yourself with if you are looking to reconstruct or renovate a modern building. These things include, outdated plumbing, gas and electrics which can all become safety hazards and so need to be replaced during the renovation. Another important consideration is the presence of unsafe and potentially toxic materials such as asbestos and lead.
If the property was built before the year 2000, there is a chance that it is painted with lead paint or that there is asbestos in the flooring, ceiling, around pipes and in other areas requiring insulation and fire retardant. If left undisturbed these materials are not harmful. However, if you are planning on renovating a property with lead and asbestos, then the dust from the works can be very dangerous and will likely pose health hazards if not managed and disposed of correctly.
Using the Wrong Materials (H3)
For the restructuring and renovating of any building, finding the right materials can be a challenge in itself. Some renovators and tradespeople will wrongfully suggest the cheapest materials, particularly if they are working on a newer building. On the surface, you may not see a difference in the materials, but once the property is a few years old and has undergone a bit of wear and tear, you will likely see problems arising due to the cheaper, materials used.
In period homes or buildings, it can be difficult to match the materials in the property. The use of modern impermeable materials can create a whole host of problems when used in period buildings which have been constructed from traditional materials. This can lead to damp and mould, both of which can in themselves result in damage to the structure of the building and pose respiratory hazards too.